Two seniors choose two different career paths

By Ashley Flerlage

Steven Merriott

Sitting in his Spanish I class during his freshman year, current senior Stephen Merriott is not necessarily focused on the Spanish lesson, instead his attention is on the the sign language interpreter signing to a fellow classmate.

“I would watch the interpreter sign my Spanish vocab words, and then I realized that I had learned how to sign the words faster than the English way,” Stephen said.

Stephen always planned on having a career in the music field, but his love changed unexpectedly to a passion and future career to signing. Making sign language his career choice was not an easy choice for Stephen. Often he would ask himself “Why did I pick this?” Since his love had been in music for a long time which focuses on  listening, he found it weird that he choose a career that focuses on his hands rather than his ears.

“He tells me all the time how weird it is, but he also says how he would find it cool to connect with more people that most people don’t associate with,” senior and girlfriend Allie Beckmann said.

Stephen says FHN played a major role in his decision. From participating in the Sign Language Club to spending time with the interpreters, he has made his career and college choice final. Stephen will be attending William Woods University this fall with the focus of becoming a sign language interpreter for younger children.

“It’s nice to see that the work that we do impacts other students that are not deaf and hard of hearing,” Interpreter Leann Hogan said. ”His passion [for signing] is like having a dream and pursuing it with success.”


Hannah Brown

Senior Hannah Brown has always wanted to help people, to change lives. Since about the seventh grade, she has dreamed of working in the medical field. There is only one problem.

“I can’t handle all the gore of the ER or being a surgeon,” Hannah said.

So how does someone who does not like the sight of blood find a career in the medical field? The answer is simple: Dentistry.

“Dentists will never be out of demand,” Hannah said. “People will always have problems with their teeth and need them fixed.”

This fall, Hannah will be attending the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) to major in nursing because many required classes for nursing majors overlap with requirements for entry into dentistry school. After four years of study, when she has obtained her Bachelor’s degree in nursing, she plans to apply to UMKC’s School of Dentistry where she will study for another four years.

“I am going to be really sad when Hannah leaves,” CC Brown, junior and Hannah’s younger sister, said. “We are only a year apart and have been going to school together forever. It’s going to be weird not having my sister here all the time.”

Two thirds of dentists currently employed in Missouri graduated from the School of Dentistry at UMKC. More than 11,000 students apply each year to the approximately 4,500 available seats. Hannah, who has been a model student- involved and high achieving with few problems- throughout high school, believes that like anything it is important to start the application process early.

“She is kind of insecure about her teeth,” CC said. “I think she would like to be able to fix them herself.”